tv BBC World News WHUT July 15, 2009 7:00am-7:30am EDT
>> bbc world news is presented by kcet, los angeles. funding for this presentation is made possible by -- >> at this is "world news today ." i'm george alagiah appeared of former israeli soldiers accused the army of widespread abuse in gaza. they said palestinian civilians were used as human shields. but israel says the allegations lack substance. >> we have no detail whatsoever in order to prove or investigate the so-called allegations.
>> 160 people killed in iran as an airline crashes in the northwest of the country -- 168 people. guantanamo commission to resume the work. what ever happened to obama's pledge to shut the place down? china and is long, how the uigur violence could put chinese working in muslim countries and danger of terrorism. paradise lost? how idyllic islands can be soon exploited for oil and gas. it is 7:00 a.m. in washington, midday in london and 2:00 p.m. in jerusalem. where a group of israeli soldiers who took part in the assault on gaza earlier this year released a report that the army was guilty of abuses. it comes from a group, breaking the silence. some of the accusations, such as
using palestinian civilians as human shields, may even amount to war crimes. but the incidents are not sourced or dated, making cooperation difficult. we will be talking to them. but first, this report. >> the israeli army had a ready answer to claims of war crimes in gaza. this was palestinian propaganda. now these accusations are being made by israeli soldiers. it was policy to do this to gaza, says breaking the silence. their testimony describes rules of engagement that didn't distinguish between combatants and civilians. everything you are seeing now is the result of a deliberate israeli policy of destruction, according to breaking the silence. the key allegation is that abuses were systematic and not the result of a few bad apples.
above all, the testimony says, orders were given to prevent israeli casualties, whatever the cost in palestinian lives. one soldiers' statement said "the minute we got to our starting line, was simply began to fire at suspect places. you don't see a terrorist, fire at the window. in urban warfare, anybody is your any be -- enemy." i am against informing on people, says one soldier, but there are people who deserve to go to jail. this man showed me the ruins of his home and explains how he was used as a human shield. the soldiers handcuffed me and they pointed the gun at my neck, he says. they controlled every step. in this manner, he says he was forced to clear houses containing palestinian gunmen. if true, a clear breach of lot of war. exactly the same incident is
described by one of the israeli soldiers who spoke to breaking the silence. a palestinian neighbor is brought in, he says. it was procedure. the soldier places his gun barrel on the civilians shoulder -- civilian posse shoulder -- civilian posse sol's shoulder. it is what happened after that, that caused him to question the morality of the israeli army action. bbc news, gaza. >> the israeli defense forces spokesperson expressed skepticism about the claims made. >> how do you know they are israeli soldiers? this organization did not have a minimal decencies to supply as the detailed information, the places of the incidents, the
ranks of the soldiers, the names, locations. we have no detail whatsoever in order to prove or investigate so-called allegations. >> and is really spokesperson. a representative from breaking the silence joins me. she is absolutely right, isn't she? you cannot go around making the claims without any cooperation -- cooberation, dates and sources? >> she is not right. many of these things are very well known to the military, where they happen. it sounds like the testimonies, the way she is talking about them, like we are giving vague information. the information is very, very exact. the only thing -- and i and the first to say -- not the details of the soldier, and the reason is we don't want him to be a scapegoat for military policy.
>> you say the israeli defense forces know very well what you are talking about. i don't know, because i have not seen it. how do we make some sort of judgment? >> i will give you an example. what was talked about previously about human shields and soldiers using palestinians to open doors. the military itself gave out the name of the units, even though we did not give the name. you had sources from the other side. i can tell you personally that i know that the unit knows which soldier talk to us. we will not give the name. but i think diverting the conversation from what actually are we talking about to this whole issue of anonymity is another method that the military is using to say we don't want to talk about what actually happened. >> the soldiers who talked to you, the former soldiers, who don't want their names released, what are they frightened of? >> well, look, a lot of the
soldiers are not only frightened of -- probably mostly they are not frightened of getting in trouble, but they have friends in their units, they have families, they have friends at home who, speaking out in the military is not something that is common in this country, and they are afraid of their social standing. that is something i understand. in that sense, we are very much like a media agency did nobody asks the media to disclose sources. -- very much like immediate agency. nobody asks the media to disclose sources. it is cleared those that were speaking were actually on the ground, that the military should say let's check this out further. >> what can you do? you heard of the military spokesperson. what can you do in israel to make sure these allegations are investigated and investigated in an open manner? >> at the end of the day, it is
a public issue, and it is a question of who is believed. breaking the silence has been around for five years. we talked to over 650 soldiers. not once has any of our testimony been questioned. i think people understand in israel -- let's not forget who we are talking about. talking about soldiers who are excellent on the ground, soldiers who are actually fighting. the military has a responsibility to these people and if they fear they cannot give their names, it is already pointing to a serious problem here what we want to happen is public debate, public discourse asking ourselves is this what we want our military to be. >> all right, thank you very much for joining us. thank you. >> no problem. >> authorities in iran say a passenger airliner as crass in qazvin in the northwest. the aircraft left the capital and was traveling to yerevan in armenia when it crashed.
state media said 168 passengers were on board and a local official says all are believed to have died. we will have more from our world affairs correspondent shortly. one of president obama's first act in office was to order the closure of guantanamo bay detention camp within a year. that was six months ago and there was no easy solution in sight. now mr. obama says he will go ahead with this week's administrative hearings after introducing a number of safeguards. today the cases of five men charged in connection with the 9/11 attacks resumes. with -- from our central london studios i'm joined by an executive director for organization for legal rights for guantanamo detainees. do you not think these safeguards that the obama administration say they put in place, you do not think it helps the situation?
>> absolutely not. they are extremely superficial. remembering that one of the platforms on which barack obama campaign to become president was on the basis that he would close guantanamo bay and he would suspend the military commissions and put in place proper courts which would deal with people in accordance with the rules of law and with substantial jurisprudence that has been built up over the last -- >> for our benefit, what single improvement would there be? what would you get in a civilian court, in the judicial system in america, what would you get that you wouldn't get in guantanamo? >> i think the answer it relates to the sort of evidence a civilian court would reject. i think the reason that barack obama and the administration decided to resurrect military commissions is so that those commissions can take into
account the evidence gained by torture, hearsay, that sort of evidence would not be able to be taken into account. >> sorry to interrupt. i thought precisely this point -- one of the safeguards the administration built in precisely was to reject evidence gained by harsh interrogation. detainees allowed a greater choice in choosing lawyers. not sure what the greater benefit would be trying them in a civilian court. >> one of the upside is they now get greater freedom in choosing their lawyers, which is a bonus. the problem in relation to evidence gained by torture is extremely which she washy way in which torture is defined -- wishy washy way. evidence may have been gained by somebody who was moved many times, something called the
frequent flier program, where they did not get enough sleep. it may not be considered torture but it would not be allowed in a civilian criminal court. i would emphasize that here say point. many people are held and facing charges as a result of essentially snitch evidence, people who said that that person was in this place. evidence that would be rejected by a federal criminal court, but possibly not by -- >> we are going to have to leave it there. thank you very much. thank you. a powerful earthquake off the coast of new zealand may have caused a potentially destructive tsunami. the alert comes from the pacific tsunami warning center after a quake measuring 7.8 was recorded all of south island, 160 kilometers left of a city. there have been no reports, though, of civilian damage or casualties. we can talk now on the phone to a manager of a hotel in the
area. what evidence have you had of this on the ground? >> just shaking for a good four minutes to five minutes, the whole building just shook. >> what kinds of things were happening during this period? >> doors were swinging, the building was creaking, lights were swaying and tables and chairs. >> in the hotel itself, what was their reaction from people, the residents staying there? was there panic? >> it was very calm and everybody said, what a good earthquake. quite scary to start off with, but everybody coped nicely and nobody panicked very much. >> i don't know if you heard my introduction but there has been this tsunami warning, and alert. have you heard that? >> we looked up on the internet,
but nobody has reacted. we're pretty close to the sea here, but i don't think we are to worry that the moment. >> i am rather surprised, given what we know about tsunamis, but there is not a kind of emergency drill or something -- that there is not a kind of emergency drill. >> that at the center is cut back away from us, but we will be notified by the civil defense and act from there. >> all right, we are going to leave it there. thank you very much. let me just bring you some information we are getting from the agencies, the australian weather bureau says a small tsunami traveling from new zealand's -- new zealand is headed toward australia. that is from twitter is news agency. -- reuters news agency.
more on the iranian airplane crash. our world affairs correspondent who has just returned from our country. thank you for being here. the first thing is, people are bound to say in the air infrastructure in tehran -- in iran might be difficult. is that your experience, or not? >> remember, iran is a huge country. more than two hours one and to another by airplane. you have to travel by plane, by and large, for long distances. very few new planes because of u.s. sanctions that apply to american airplanes and european ones. you might say, this is a russian plane, but whatever reason, even the fleets of russian and ukrainian plains are pretty ancient. when you get in an airplane there, you know you are getting on something that has many years of service. they do their best to keep them going. they have very capable airline
managers and pilots, but it is very difficult with planes that are 20 or 30 years old. >> what about the terrain in the northwest of the country? what kind is a? >> not so mountainous -- the further north west you get, the more mountainous it gets. >> it would be difficult for emergency services to get to the site? we have been told there were not any survivors, but if there were, would it be difficult? >> it was quite near to the principle -- provincial capital, qazvin. but one eye witness said the airplane just plummeted from the air and blow up on explosion. we have seen the pictures of a huge crater. it is quite clear that -- in a way, it is academic how they got there because there was clearly no chance of survivors. >> this is "world news today." coming up, the main rebel group
in nigeria's niger delta is calling a 60-day cease-fire following the release of its leader. 12 off-duty federal agents have been found tortured and murdered in mexico. officials say the 11 men and one woman were killed in the state where the police are engaged in an intense battle with local drug gangs. >> this marks one of the boldest attacks on federal forces since mexico's president felipe calderon launched his war on drugs three years ago. the blindfolded bodies were tied hand and foot and dumped along a mountain highway. it is thought the agents were ambushed when they were off duty, kidnapped and then killed. the discovery of the bodies came two days after the arrest of one of the elected leader -- leaders of the local drug cartel. accused of authorizing distribution of cocaine,
marijuana, and often -- a synthetic drugs. his arrest sparked a wave of violence. six police officers and soldiers were killed when armed gangs used grenades and assault rifles to attack police stations and a hotel where police were staying. the western state is on a major drug trafficking route between south america and the united states and is one of the key battleground in the president's war on drugs. 45,000 troops have been sent to fight drug gangs across the country. more than 11,000 you have been killed in drug-related violence since he took office -- more than 11,000 have been killed. >> and 19-year-old british backpackers missing in australia for 12 days was found alive. he went missing in dense bush land in the blue mountains west of sydney. new south wales police said two
bush walkers alerted emerges is services. he has been reignited with his family -- reunited with his family and is being treated for dehydration and exposure. this is "world news today" from bbc world news. i'm george alagiah. a group of soldiers who took part in as rossel offensive in gaza says widespread abuses were committed against civilians -- who took part in israel's offensive. an iranian airline crashes in the northwest of the country. a truce has been declared by nigeria's most prominent militant group in the niger delta. the movement for the emancipation of the niger delta called a cease-fire after its leader was released from detention. they are also saying, though, military forces must withdraw to
allow the displaced return home. it come days after the first attack outside of the delta. >> henry oca is a senior militant but does not control the whole movement. he admits he only accepted the amnesty terms to get treatment for his kidney and also problems. he doesn't think other commanders will lead down their arms for long. >> it depends on the government. those commanders and fighters -- amnesty means nothing. because the government doesn't know them. why will i come out? they are fighting for something. >> that something is the funneling of oil wealth into this desperately poor region and to repair environmental damage from the oil industry. >> you have some idealistic
young people there who probably believe their ideologies that they are fighting for, the people of the delta. but, in fact, there are a lot of criminals in the organization because basically they had begun as a political force. >> many militants finance themselves smuggling. it is thought local officials and local military -- a key condition for talks of a pullout of nigerian forces in the region. that looks highly unlikely. the lawlessness isn't helped by nigeria's president who is on well and ineffective. last weekend's militants set fire to eight oil installation in lagos. at the two--- to an oil installation.
>> china's relationship with islam has been put under particular scrutiny following the recent unrest in eds northwest province of xinjiang. they say elements of al qaeda work behind ethnic violence when 180 people were killed and 6000 wounded. now al qaeda is reported to be targeting chinese nationals and africa. beijing responded by warning citizens in algeria against possible attacks. our correspondent in beijing has more. >> the chinese embassy in algeria issued a warning. warning chinese nationals to be extra vigilant. it is especially calling on chinese-funded organization and personnel to raise security awareness and strengthen security measures. this heightened alert follows a warning from a london-based security consultant who says it has intercepted chatter from an
al qaeda affiliated group that said it was going to target chinese nationals following the unrest in denying -- and rest in xinjiang. most who died, where, in fact, han chinese. although uigur muslims did die. there has been haydns security situation, and those riots and neighborhoods have been sealed off -- heightened security. china has been going to africa for many years, building new railways and routes, and getting natural resources to fuel the economic boom. but chinese nationals have been targeted before. they have been kidnapped and threatened, but this seems like
the first time that china and its people have received a direct threat from an al qaeda affiliate. >> let us catch up with the sports. the american league beat the national league for-3 in the all-star game tuesday night. that picture also tells the story because barack obama, the fourth president to throw a ceremonial first pitch. american league were 3-2 down of the fifth inning but tied it up, getting derrick jr. -- jeter to home plate. and here, a run would put the national league ahead. and the next inning, a triple, taking into third base. this is from adam jones -- there's the catch.
for-3, it ends, for the american league. -- 4-3. it offing's sensation from japan will tee it up for a championship -- a golfing sensation. this will be his first time at the oldest of the four majors. >> this is different from what i'm used to. the green, wind, bunker. this is my first trip to scotland. i tried the i guess -- haggis, a very nice taste. >> if you don't know what it is, you don't want to know. the all stop the silver sisters, a group of grandmothers in
japan who enjoy baseball -- osaka silver sisters. they were up against the boys of another club. that was the captain pitching. rbi for this grant me. she says she will eventually hang up her glove when she turns 80 -- rbi for a granny. >> the tsunami warnings in the pacific, 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck off of new zealand. >> bbc world news was presented by kcet, los angeles. funding for this presentation was made possible by --